The Botswana Movement for Democracy (BMD) president, Advocate Sidney Pilane is fighting a bitter war to defeat his colleagues, Advocate Duma Boko of Botswana National Front (BNF) and Dumelang Saleshando of Botswana Congress Party (BCP) in the battle for the soul of the UDC.
The coalition party, which also comprise of the Botswana Peoples Party (BPP) is at war with itself, the centre of dispute being accumulation of power by the involved leaders. In a new twist of events, BCP and BNF found themselves fighting against the axis of Pilane’s BMD as well as the BPP. The new warfare has been launched under the legality of the coalition constitution, which has caused what look likes an impending procreated battle.
The BNF and BCP leadership announced during their party conferences held during the presidential holidays that a new constitution, signed by only Boko and Saleshando was submitted to the Registrar of Societies. This has however been contested by the other contracting partners, BMD and BPP. Part of the objection by the duo is that the constitution submitted by Boko and Saleshando is not what has been agreed during the Negotiation Stream and Upper Negotiation Stream. There has also been a dispute on whether the talks were taking place between BCP and the UDC or it was between BCP and other three coalition partners.
The constitution submitted by Boko and Saleshando is an amended version of what was agreed by the negotiation streams including the upper stream. The amendments came about following the contested UDC February 2018 congress held at Boipuso. The amendments made to the initial constitution delivered by the negotiation team include; creating one Vice President position, as well as restoring the powers of sitting president as provided for by the republic’s constitution when UDC is in power.
Other provisions, in the constitution submitted by Boko include giving the UDC president power to make unilateral decisions such as expelling a member of the UDC from the coalition as well as the power to repossesses constituencies from contracting parties for re-distribution. This submission of the constitution, which observers said it will deal decisively with Pilane, was followed by the resolutions of the two parties to reclaim constituencies allocated to BMD, a contracting partner expect the one held
The constitution submitted by BMD and BPP to the register of societies is the one delivered by the negotiation streams, but without the input of the disputed congress. The constitution recognizes that the four contracting partners are equal members and sets out how the coalition will behave when in power with regards to the exercise of the executive. The constitution is clear that once UDC wins power, the country should immediately go through constitutional review that will see what the party envisages become part of the national constitution.
These powers in essence include, a president with curtailed powers. The power will be vested in what is called President’s Executive Council to comprise all the president of coalition partners. Article 11 .5 indicate: ‘The executive authority of the Republic of Botswana shall, when the UDC is in power, vest in the President’s Executive Council, which authority shall be exercised jointly.
This power will include the power to appoint cabinet, head of public service, permanent secretaries, ambassadors, Speaker of the National Assembly, the Chief Justice and other senior members in the public services. The constitution also express clearly that president of the UDC, shall be the State president, while Fist Vice President, one occupied currently by Pilane would be Deputy President, while the Secretary General of the UDC would Second Vice Presidents of Botswana. The BPP, which occupies the chairperson position, is guaranteed the most senior position in cabinet. The power to appoint cabinet minister is also taken away from the presidency and given to the executive council.
WHAT PILANE FEARS
If Boko and Saleshando’s submitted constitution see the green light, Pilane would lose his power within the UDC and in the future government of the coalition wins power. What currently obtains is that BCP and BNF are looking at giving Pilane and his BMD a non-deal by reclaiming all his constituencies except two where it is incumbent. This will strip Pilane off bargaining power within the party and leaving his influence in the affairs of the UDC insignificant.
Secondly, a proposed one VP constitution will compel the contracting partners to convene a congress where either Pilane or Saleshando will be given the post. As things stand, Saleshando undisputed favourite to take the crown, which would essentially leave Pilane in the lurch.
Pilane also does not want constitution proposed by his two colleagues because it will effectively give power to the UDC Congress as opposed to UDC NEC as Pilane hoped for in his constitution. In Pilane’s view, congress is not necessary because UDC is just an electoral arrangement and the true power should lies with the NEC. Pilane currently has the support of BPP NEC as well as Boko, who has been protecting him for some time now. Boko has made it clear that he is not in favour of anything that would break the UDC.
DUMELANG SALESHANDO PERSPECTIVE
I have hitherto refused to comment on the controversy that has been sparked by the submission of the UDC constitution to the Registrar of Societies. It is possible that some may interpret my silence to be a tacit admission of guilt to all the claims by the leaders of BPP and BMD on why the constitution should not have been submitted for registration. I still do not see the need to respond comprehensively at this stage and allow the leader of the UDC as the chief spokesperson space to address the issues raised by our colleagues.
For the benefit of BCP members and supporters, to whom I remain accountable, I just want to make the following 3 points clear;
1. The BCP in 2016 entered into negotiations with the UDC. The UDC (BPP, BNF and BMD) decided that they will not negotiate as separate entities but as a single unit under the leadership of Comrade Duma Boko. The stream that negotiated the constitution had six BCP representatives while the UDC also had six. Claims that each of the four parties had two representatives are false, there were two parties to the negotiations each represented by 6 people.
2. It was agreed that the final decision makers on all issues shall be the presidents of the UDC and the BCP. This point has been made by none other than Boko in the numerous meetings we addressed nationwide last year and never refuted by any member of the UDC until this month. When we signed the agreement on by-elections between the UDC and BCP, it was only signed by myself for the BCP and Boko for the UDC. It was for the same reason that the 2 of us signed off the constitution for submission to the Registrar of Societies.
3. Both UDC and BCP agreed to subject the constitution to congress scrutiny and approval by our members. Both sides knew that some of their proposals may be rejected by congress. The two presidency model for the UDC was a brainchild of the BCP leadership but this proposal was shot down by congress. That is how democracy works, the voice of the membership has to be respected.
It is has been difficult for me to understand why people who left the BDP because of a leader who did not respect congress decisions want to propose that a committee of 16 people (UDC NEC) should have powers over congress. Strange, very strange… The position of the 2018 BCP congress is that the UDC should be fixed as it is clearly broken, broken by all of us who are its members. If it cannot be fixed, it must be reconfigured urgently as we are running out of time. Not fixing it will amount to PLAYING FIDDLE WHILE ROME BURNS
The Director General of the Directorate on Corruption and Economic Crime (DCEC) Tymon Katholo has revealed why he took a decision to engage private lawyers against the State. The DCEC boss engaged Monthe and Marumo Attorneys in his application to interdict the Directorate of Intelligence and Security (DIS) from accessing files and dockets in the custody of the corruption busting agency.
In his affidavit, Katholo says that by virtue of my appointment as the Director General of the DCEC, he is obliged to defend the administration and operational activities of the DCEC. He added that, “I have however been advised about a provision in the State Proceedings Act which grants the authority of public institution to undertake legal proceedings to the Attorney General.” Katholo contends that the provision is not absolute and the High Court may in the exercise of its original jurisdiction permit such, like in this circumstance authorise such proceedings to be instituted by the DCEC or its Director General.
Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) has gone through transformation over the years, with new faces coming and going, but some figures have become part and parcel of the furniture at Tsholetsa House. From founding in 1962, BDP has seen five leaders changing the baton during the party’s 60 years of existence. The party has successfully contested 12 general elections, albeit the outcome of the last polls were disputed in court.
While party splits were not synonymous with the BDP for the better part of its existence, the party suffered two splits in the last 12 years; the first in 2010 when a Barataphathi faction broke ranks to found the now defunct Botswana Movement for Democracy (BMD). The Barataphathi faction was in the main protesting the ill-treatment of then recently elected party secretary general, Gomolemo Motswaledi, who had been suspended ostensibly for challenging the authority of then president, Ian Khama.
Mr Abdoola has known Mr. Uzair Razi for many years from the time he was a young boy. Uzair’s father, Mr Razi Ahmed, was the head of BCCI Bank in Botswana and “a very good man,” his close associates say.
Uzair and his wife went to settle in Dubai, the latter’s birthplace. He stayed in touch and was working for a real estate company owned by Mr. Sameer Lakhani. “Our understanding is that Uzair approached Mr. Abdoola to utilize their services for any property-related interests in Dubai. He did some work for Mr.Abdoola and others in the Botswana business community,” narrates a friend of Mr Abdoola.